NORFOLK, Va. - If it feels like you've been scrubbing your home nonstop for the past year because of the pandemic, give yourself a break.
You've probably been overdoing it, according to Consumer Reports.
At the beginning of the pandemic there was a lot of concern about the coronavirus spreading on surfaces, but health experts now say it's not a big risk.
Transmission generally occurs via small airborne particles when you're close to someone who's infected.
Instead, Consumer Reports suggests focusing on routine spring cleaning right now.
Here are some of the strategies Consumer Reports' home and appliances reporter Dan Wroclawski recommends.
To keep odors and gunk in your fridge at bay, go over plastic surfaces regularly with a sponge dipped in a cup of baking soda mixed with a quart of water. Wipe the door gasket with a damp sponge or cloth to maintain a good seal and keep the cold air in.
With countertops, care isn’t one-size-fits-all, so follow the manufacturer’s advice for cleaning yours. For instance, an end-of-day sweep with a damp cloth may be all you need for quartz, while a soft cloth or sponge dipped in dish liquid and water works for granite, laminate, and butcher block. In general, skip scrubber sponges on counters. It can create crevices and cracks where bacteria can get in and reside.
Crack a window or run an exhaust fan during and after showers, and wipe down tile walls and porcelain afterward to help prevent the moisture buildup that can lead to mildew.
If you’ve already got mildew or soap scum, spray on a solution of one part bleach to four parts water, let it sit for 30 minutes, wipe with a sponge, and finish with a water rinse.
For hard-to-clean areas like shower door tracks, an old toothbrush can work magic. Dampen the bristles and brush away muck. Dipped in diluted bleach, that toothbrush can also do wonders on discolored grout.
All that household dirt and dust we’re generating these days typically ends up on floors and carpets. For bare floors, a stick vac may be all you need, according to CR's testers. For carpets, CR’s tests have found that uprights are best because the weight of the device sits atop the brush head, pushing it down into the pile so it sucks up more debris. If you’re in the market for a new vac, check the ratings at ConsumerReports.org. CR put nearly 200 models to the test and can help you identify the best one for your floors.
Don’t forget to look up. Dusty ceiling fans are the worst! Here’s a hack: simply slip a pillowcase over one blade at a time, and then pull it and the dust right off. Wipe blades and housing with a damp cloth and an all-purpose cleaner. Dry everything thoroughly; damp blades attract dust.
Filters may be all too easy to overlook, but dirty ones can affect a device’s performance. With vacuums, for instance, especially bagless models, a blocked filter may reduce suction or spew dust back into the air. Fortunately, they’re usually pretty simple to clean. For air conditioners, air purifiers, dehumidifiers, and vacuums, you can usually hand-wash filters with water and mild soap, letting them dry fully before reinserting.
Keep in mind that as the weather gets warmer, wash window air conditioner filters monthly during times of heavy use. Replace disposable HVAC system filters every one to three months. Don’t bother with washable filters as they’ve performed poorly in CR tests.